Tag Archives: Green Belt

Stagnation at Castle Point Council, whilst other Local Authorities take the Local Plan Fight to the Inspectorate!

It appears that Castle Point Borough Council are far from being the only Local Authority struggling to meet its Housing Needs. Whether the Government step in to scoop up the left-overs of the various Local Plan versions devised within CPBC Runnymede Towers, or whether CPBC are Actually Attempting to resurrect a Local Plan, rather than twiddling their thumbs waiting for the Government Chief Planner, Residents remain in the Dark!

With the last version of the Local Plan 2018, voted down at the Special Council meeting, it may have been appropriate for a councillor, or a group of councillors, to have proposed a return to the 2016 version, and seen whether a concensus could have been gained on that within a council members meeting.

At least the CPBC Local Plan process would have been seen to be advancing rather than the pathetic Standstill we appear to be held in.

Whether CPBC have had word of Bad News from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, but we will not be hearing officially his verdict on Intervention ahead of the May local elections, we can only surmise.

But with news from Manchester that Government Ministers and The Planning Inspectorate not appearing to be on the “same page” where the calculation of Housing Targets and indeed the Supply of Land is concerned, CPBC may well have missed a trick in not continuing to at least try to advance its Local Plan!

We have to assume that CPBC council officers have been working to fulfil the Duty to Cooperate part of the Local Plan process, if not, why not, so why haven’t councillors taken it upon themselves to work on the Local Plan itself?

A Local Plan, whether fully Sound, but at least Agreed upon, could be considered and possibly consulted upon, outside of Intervention. The Green Belt, Flood Risk and the Hazardous Industries could be debated in open Examination, rather than in private!

The Local Government Chronicle Reported on the 26th February 2019:                                         

Greater Manchester CA mayor Andy Burnham has accused the housing minister Kit Malthouse of being ‘at best partial and at worst misleading’ over comments made regarding Greater Manchester’s plans for new homes.                                                                                                                

The issue of whether it is really necessary to build on greenbelt land in Greater Manchester is a contentious one right now. After being beset by delays, the latest consultation on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework opened last month and runs until 18 March.                         

Greater Manchester has calculated how many new homes it will require by 2037 based on 2014 household projections, in accordance with the government’s proposed methodology for calculating local housing need.                                                                                                                         

This required Greater Manchester to plan for 73,500 more dwellings than had it used more recent 2016 projections. In order to meet these targets the combined authority has earmarked nearly 64,000 dwellings on a series of greenfield sites, predominantly within the green belt.       

The mayor claims that the government’s insistence on using these “outdated housing targets” had left him with “no choice” but to plan to build on green belt land. But housing minister Kit Malthouse denied that the government’s targets were mandatory.                                                     

Mr Malthouse stated that any inspector will accept a “properly evidenced and assessed variation” from that target.                                                                                                                                 

“If, for example, you have constraints like areas of outstanding natural beauty or green belt, or whatever it might be, and you can justify a lower number, then an inspector should accept that.”                                      

Mr Burnham claims that Mr Malthouse’s comments, which were made during last week’s parliamentary debate on the framework came as a “surprise” to him.                                                    

They do not reflect current government policy,” he said. “They give a very different impression to the one offered in private by civil servants.”                                                                                          

“Under pressure from Conservative backbenchers, it would appear that the Government is trying to soften its line on housing numbers and greenbelt and deflect blame towards councils…It is unfair and dishonest.”                                                                                                                      

Mr Burnham claims that Greater Manchester does not believe it has discretion over housing numbers, because the government’s planning guidance says local authorities are “expected” to use the government methodology to calculate housing need and will be required to “demonstrate exceptional circumstances” to deviate from it.                                                                

The government’s target, based on its standard methodology, is to build a million homes by the end of 2020. But a report released this month by the National Audit Office, ‘Planning for New Homes’, admitted this target will be “challenging to meet”, and found the standard methodology approach has “weaknesses” and “as a result will be revised”.                                                             

Although local authorities in the South and East of England are being pushed to build significantly more new homes, the report explains that the latest standard method of assessing housing need specifies that the minimum numbers of new homes needed in some areas is now less than the local authorities had previously assessed – in the North West, by 24%.          

Responding to Mr Burnham’s comments, Mr Malthouse said: “We need more homes in the right places and we are reforming the planning system to ensure this occurs. “But we have been clear that the use of green belt land should be a last resort, with the standard method not providing a mandatory target.                                                                                                               

“That’s why we strengthened green belt protection with councils now having to show they have exhausted all other reasonable options to meet development needs before even considering changes to the green belt and then evidence exceptional circumstances to justify development.”                     

Copyright: Jessica Hill, Local Government Chronicle

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Persimmon Homes Refused Permission for Change of Use of Land, and to Build on Canvey Island Green Belt!

Persimmon Homes have again been Refused Planning Permission for a Change of Use of Land and the Erection of a Stable Block on Canvey Island Green Belt, to the rear of the Dutch Village Estate, the Cornfields.

This latest attempt follows a previous Application, also Refused. It is seen to be an attempt to establish a Built Development on Green Belt land, ahead of the CPBC Local Plan!

Despite CPBC Planning Officers giving Scant regard to Residents objections;

“The site is private land, the only public access is a footpath which runs along the southern edge of the land. Any use of the site for recreational purposes is unauthorised.

o Access for fire engines is not a planning matter

o It is noted that some objectors are concerned for the Roman Saltern (ancient monument) on adjoining land if it is used for grazing or turning out horses, but the application site does not include the land containing the Saltern, this would need to be the subject of further planning permission

o The highway authority has been consulted on the proposed development and has raised no objections on the ground of traffic safety. The conditions requested by the highway authority would be imposed on any permission granted where reasonable and necessary

o Any other relevant planning matters are discussed in the evaluation of the proposal”

….was all CPBC officer’s had to say in response.

The CPBC Case Officer Concluded;

“My Recommendation is Refusal for the following reasons”

 1 The proposed development is situated within an area of Green Belt as defined in the Council’s Adopted Local Plan where inappropriate development is only permitted in very special circumstances. The proposal, by reason of the provision of a new building and area of hardstanding, would not preserve the openness of the Green Belt and is therefore considered to constitute inappropriate development. No very special circumstances to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, have been demonstrated and the proposed development is therefore contrary to government guidance as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.  

2 The proposal seeks to provide a stable facility within Flood Zone 3, an area identified at risk of flooding. There are considered to be sequentially preferable sites available for the proposed development in areas with a lower probability of flooding, and the proposal does not meet the requirements of the sequential test. The proposal is therefore contrary to government guidance contained within the National Planning Policy Framework and Planning Practice Guidance.”

Canvey Island Town Council’s, local Residents’, and the Canvey Green Belt Campaign’s 7 Page objection, as well as the Environment Agency’s response, are hidden from Public View on the Castle Point Borough Council’s Planning Portal!

However, The full Planning Officer Report can be found HERE. �

Riding Roughshod through Planning Policy

The Big Stick raised to Fall across Castle Point Council’s Knuckles! Government yet to send Letter, as the Wirral and Thanet hear their Local Plan Bad News!

Castle Point Council are now the sole Council awaiting the Government response to their “protracted” efforts towards producing a Local Plan.

Back in March 2018 CPBC were one of just 3 Local Authorities singled out for criticism at the lack of response and effort towards forwarding Local Plans amongst the 15 most feet dragging authorities threatened by the then Housing Minister.

In letters dated 28th January 2019 the Wirral and Thanet Councils have received further instruction on what is now required towards producing their Local Plan. Basically a streamlined group, consisting of a designated lead councillor and lead official, will be charged with responsibility of progressing their Local Plans.

No word as yet of Castle Point Council’s Fate!

In his letter to the Wirral Council, the Secretary of State, JAMES BROKENSHIRE wrote; “We note that in the Wirral’s case the Housing Minister points out “at least two communities in Wirral are currently preparing neighbourhood plans: Leastowe and Birkenhead North. Two further communities have neighbourhood plans in force: Devonshire Park and Hoylake. Communities can bring forward neighbourhood plans in the absence of an up-to-date Local Plan, but doing so can be more challenging for communities.””

Previously Housing Secretary SAJID JAVID had stated; “The government has abolished top-down regional planning. But a locally-led planning system requires elected local representatives to take the lead, listen to local residents and business, and set out a clear framework to build new homes, provide key infrastructure, support the local economy and protect the environment.”

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign group maintains the opinion that Canvey Island, as a whole, would have been better represented if we had made efforts to, at least, commence a Neighbourhood Plan.

This is no less relevant, now that we learn that within the next stages of a CPBC Local Plan, we will be represented by a Lead Councillor more likely to propose inappropriate development on Canvey Island.

A Canvey Island Neighbourhood Plan would have been a vehicle to illustrate the issues facing Canvey Island, in the process to produce a fair Castle Point Local Plan.

Instead we will likely be represented by a Lead Councillor supportive of the rejected 2018 Local Plan, and all of the Development that document proposed to deliver on Green Belt on the Flood Zone and away from politically sensitive areas!

Sources inform us that no Local Plan work is on-going at CPBC, they appear to sitting like ducks in the water, oblivious to the shotgun about to be fired at them!

Admittedly it is strange that of the 3 councils in most serious trouble with the Secretary of State, only CPBC have yet to receive a letter. Either way none of the councillors are feeding any information nor CPBC making comment as to Local Plan progress.

Councillors and officers have a responsibility to the Residents but show little regard as to keeping them informed.

We are likely to pay a heavy price for CPBC’s ineptitude!

We thank our friends at Basildon Residents Against Inappropriate Development for alerting us to the issuing of the Government letters to the Wirral and Thanet Councils, shame our local Echo isn’t more challenging where CPBC is concerned.

The Letters issued to the Wirral and Thanet can be found via this LINK.

Castle Point Council remain on the Intervention “Naughty Step”, whilst other authorities stall and Protect Green Belt! Making an example of CPBC may come at a Cost!

Castle Point Council, having endured an uncomfortable Christmas, sat on the Government Intervention “Naughty Step”, continue to give no sign of any action they may, or may not, have been taking to put the Secretary of State, at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s, mind at rest that they have continued working hard on the CPBC Local Plan.

With the extended Christmas break for council officers and members, we can only assume that once the dreaded “phone call” from the Government chief planner is received, CPBC will by then have raised the White Flag of surrender above Runnymede Towers!

After all, the Local Development Scheme’s Timetable was more focussed on producing Any Local Plan on time, rather than a Good Local Plan! Sound familiar?

However, with the whole Country focussing on the Brexit position, now could be a very Bad Time to make an example of Castle Point Council. With local elections due in May it may be considered untimely for the Government to be seen to be criticising their colleagues within the Local Lead political group, particularly as some of their own members took such decisive action in opposing a Local Plan that proposed so much development on Green Belt!

Since the Local Plan process has been undertaken in Castle Point the current Lead group has maintained political control. Withdrawn Plans include the Core Strategy, the 2014 Plan and the 2016 Plan. Clearly some assistance may be required, but for the Government to make a move that could possibly unbalance the control of the council, would be interesting in the least.

Some public explanation as to what, if any, work has continued to be undertaken would be the least residents deserve, even if only a statement was released via the cpbc friendly Echo.

Meanwhile; The number of homes granted planning permission in England rose by two per cent in the year to the end of September, rising to 359,500.
“The latest Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government statistics reveal a slight increase on the 352,000 homes securing permission in the same period last year.” Housing minister Kit Malthouse welcomed the cooperation between “builders, developers and councillors”, claiming that government reforms to the planning system are “starting to deliver the permissions we need to reach 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s”. Planningportal.co.uk

From this we can ascertain that secured Permissions do not equate to the number of dwellings delivered.

Probably, and more threateningly to Canvey Island, similar to the number of sites identified for release in the CPBC Local Plan, will not equate to the number of sites being developed on the mainland!

County Border News reports December 2018

“Tandridge district council said, the plan would be submitted “in advance of the introduction of a new government target, which would require the district to plan for 12,900 new homes or 645 homes per year”.
It added: “Based on the rural nature, environmental and landscape designations and the significant proportion of the district covered by Green Belt, the council believes the number of homes the local plan can deliver is 6,056, or 303 homes per year.

Whilst elsewhere in Greater Manchester, the local authority have also revised downwards the number of new homes needed, whilst also halving the proposed Green Belt Loss!

“Insiders say this was because the original document was planning for more homes than the region needed.
It also concentrates even more ‘high density’ development in Manchester and Salford – apartments, essentially – as well as in town centres such as Stockport and Bolton, in order to reduce the amount of protected green space under threat elsewhere.
Around 15 green belt sites have been removed from the plan altogether.

The total amount of green belt space under threat has roughly halved under the new plan” **

Whether Localism is to become an empty promise, or not, with other authorities performing equally, if not worse, than CPBC, for the Government to make an example of Castle Point Borough Council at this “sensitive” time, may well be at the price of an upset mainland community.

smiff

*more can be read HERE.

** more can be read HERE.

No Place for Intimidation, Castle Point councillors were simply not convinced the Local Plan was acceptable or Fair. Time for an Inquiry into Behaviour!

It appears there have been reports, that following the Castle Point Council decision not to approve the draft 2018 Local Plan, certain councillor or councillors have been subjected to intimidation, basically for voting against a Local Plan they felt unacceptable.

Lead group councillors suggest they were allowed a free vote.

Firstly the chief executive made clear that in his view the Plan wasn’t for changing, and the vote must be in favour of adoption, solely to keep to a schedule set by Government.

The council leader repeated this warning as did his deputy, this was followed by many councillors stating they were between a “rock and a hard  place”, followed by the usual platitudes.

It may have been an easier passage for the Plan if rather than the sit and listen briefings, councillors from all sides had been invited to engage with the Government chief planner’s team and had some input into drawing up the Plan.

Some of the councillor’s input into the debate was nonsensical. Cllr Cole for instance explained his sympathy for the homeless people of Castle Point, families waiting to be housed. Then he went onto suggest that with Cllr smith’s inclusion of master planning developments identified for development ward councillors and residents would have influence on the density of the housing, less flats, more open spaces etc etc.

Master planning will come at a serious cost, most particularly at the likely expense of affordable and social housing!

Another councillor suggested in his 6 months of being in position he had studied and got to grips with the Local Plan process of Castle Point, all 12 years+ of it!

We have heard talk at National level of No Plan being better than a Bad Plan.

Luckily in a democracy we are allowed to say and vote accordingly, especially if we feel this is the case.

Perhaps some councillors felt that “Local Factors” still affect the cpbc Plan making process, it has before!

What the leadership and officers must remember is that they have solely been responsible for the debacle of a situation they have found  themselves in, they have voted in Favour of every single Plan put before the members and it was they that Failed the Duty to Cooperate test with the 2016 Plan, before that even reached examination stage.

For it to be claimed that the Lead group allowed a free vote on the Plan makes it all the worse that it appeared that one councillor was taken ill, possibly due to the pressure of the occasion, and another was left upset by remarks following the vote.

In a democracy it is peoples right to make up their own minds, and it is important they are allowed to do so without fear of recriminations.

Now it is important that those who have Failed us should not take the Lead should intervention occur.

The Gov. Chief Planner is fully capable of putting together an unbiased and neutral team of planners and examiners.

Perhaps this is what those so forcefully behind an approval vote fear the most.

Now following the recent posts leading up to Wednesdays meeting, we have encouraged participation through the comments column.

This time for many reasons there will be none allowed, as the saying goes, they will have to “suck it up!”

This Post is purely in appreciation of the councillors who took a brave decision in spite of the consequences and took the more difficult decision to vote, right or wrong, according to their consciences for what they felt was Right.

Those brave mainland and Island councillors are what makes this country what it is.

The rest of us must learn to live with it, or come up with a more convincing argument other than intimidation!

There is a very real case for an Inquiry into the Matter!

 

Come 2033, where will there be left to build, on Canvey Island? And the Entrapment of Castle Point Councillors

Residents of Canvey Island and of Castle Point may do well to not get their hopes up too high, where a change to the Local Plan 2018 is concerned.

Councillors, giving out signs of rebellion, are on thin ice.

As a Campaign group we took a cautious approach to the offer of involvement in a private meeting, with the cpbc leader and officers. We agreed to a combined meeting only, if it included the other Castle Point resident campaign groups, however this was rejected by the leader and therefore the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group have remained outside of the Community Involvement part of the Local Plan process, for which we have been criticised locally!

The Council members appear not to have been quite so astute!

Unless of course we, the Residents, have been misled.

Councillors have suggested being denied input or influence on the 2018 Local Plan process and yet the Agenda paper indicates quite the opposite:

4.11 Members of the Council have been engaged in the development of the New Local Plan through a series of six Member Briefings commencing in July through to November and publication of this report.

Those Castle Point Residents looking for the councillors to vote to protect the Borough from indiscriminate development of Green Belt and green field land should prepare themselves for possible disappointment.

In the past, when given the opportunity to vote For or Against the adoption of, the Core Strategy, the 2014 draft Local Plan, and the 2016 Local Plan, with feigned deep foreboding and patronising regret, a Majority did so!

Why should we expect them to act any differently this time around?

Where Transport is concerned the CPBC Agenda paperwork indicates:

“it appears that there are likely to be capacity issues at some key junctions in Castle Point, with the Woodman’s Arms junction and the Tarpots junction most affected.”

Once again let’s not suggest there is any comparable issues that might be affecting Canvey Island!

The Local Plan 2018 includes these aspirations on Transport;

the following improvements and alterations to carriageway infrastructure in Castle Point will be delivered during the plan period to 2033:

a. A127 Growth Corridor Strategy;

b. Extension to Roscommon Way Phase 3;

c. Widening of Somnes Avenue;

d. Route improvements along the A129 Rayleigh Road between the RayleighWeir and Victoria House Corner junctions;

e. Dualling of the northern section of the A130 Canvey Way in the vicinity of Sadlers Farm;

f. Minor Junction improvements at both ends of Kenneth Road;
and

g. Highway improvements in Canvey and Hadleigh Town Centres.

2. During the period to 2033, the Council will also work with partners to secure the investment necessary to deliver a new or improved access to Canvey Island.

Any of these promises sound familiar?

Canvey Island can also look forward, despite the supposed Constraints on Development, to:

Land east of Canvey Road, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 300 new homes by 2033

Land west of Canvey Road, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 253 new homes and a residential care home by 2033

Land at Thorney Bay Road, Canvey Island is expected to deliver up to 600 new homes and a residential care home by 2033.

Land at Point Road, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 100 new homes by 2033.

Land at Walsingham House, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 32 new homes by 2033.

Land at the Admiral Jellicoe, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 40 new homes by 2033

Land south of Haron Close, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 10 new homes by 2033

Land at Haystack car park, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 14 new homes by 2033

Land at Kings Park, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 50 new homes by 2033.

That is of course not including all of the Business development sites at west Canvey, Flats in the Town Centre, the Haystack car park, the Job Centre, Tower Radio site, the old dairy, 125-127 High Street, Venables Close Out Patients Centre Long Road and Paddocks Community Centre land, Admiral Jellicoe etc that we have heard so much of, of late!

The question is, come 2033, where will there be left on Canvey Island to develop?

This should really bring into question, the morally corrupt method of application of the Sequential Test on Canvey Island development sites, by Castle Point Council!

Add into the mix the concerns of Benfleet residents over the 900 dwellings proposed on Green Belt at Jotmans Farm and you can see the daily commute for those of us in the south of the Borough and, worse still, an Emergency Evacuation of Canvey Island, becoming a real issue!

Screenshot (22)

Canvey Residents, Local Plan 4,000 new Dwellings! A Must Attend Meeting, for US All! Make Your Councillor Aware of your feelings! Think the Paddocks and Jellicoe are bad, you wait until this Plan is implemented! Another fine Mess we are Left In!

Canvey Islanders, this time next week our Fate will have been decided!

A meeting to consider the CPBC Local Plan 2018 with sites identified for 4,000* new dwellings, and the release of vast tracts of Green Belt and green field sites will have been held and a decision made!

Benfleet Residents will be mobilised to attend the meeting on the 28th November to influence their councillors.

Canvey Island Residents should be prepared to do the same!

Details of the meeting are below.

Cllr Smith and the Chief Executive of CPBC will be giving the Green Light to developers in areas such as the Dutch Village cornfields, the Triangle, the Paddocks, Thorney Bay and Jotmans farm!

This decision will have a fundamental affect on our daily lives if allowed to happen!

Whether your current concerns are the daily Traffic Congestion, the removal of the Rapid Response Vehicle, the NHS “reorganisation” in our area, access to Doctors, Schools, the loss of Green Fields, Flooding of our Homes, be certain that if our Councillors vote to Approve the Local Plan as it stands, these issues will intensify!

We must Urge our Councillors to actively Vote Against this Local Plan, even if Intervention is the only option.

As it was explained in the previous POST the threat of Intervention may not be quite as bad as portrayed by cllr smith and ceo marchant. Certainly the removal of local input, was exaggerated.

Back in June Castle Point councillors were threatened by the effects of Intervention and the benefits of CPBC retaining control of the Local Plan;

By the cpbc ceo: with intervention “Council with no say over Plan making locally, and no influence over the outcome”

By Cllr smith said: “keeping the plan making process in members control is of paramount importance for cllrs and residents to keep control of the shaping of our future Borough.” “Green Belt assessment a set process and promised member involvement in that process.

“By cllr Stanley: “give confidence to the gov minister that he can leave the job safely in our hands.”

I wonder how worse it could have been?

We must Urge our Councillors to actively Vote Against this Local Plan, even if Intervention is the only option.

Part of the Local Plan is to consider Constraints against development. Across the Borough Green Belt is a major Policy Constraint against development.

On Canvey Island, in particular, a second major Constraint is Flood Risk. CPBC have consistently used Flood Risk as a Constraint against development Housing Numbers across the Borough.

Where Flood Risk actually threatens, on Canvey Island, the Constraint is Not applied to development. In effect the Borough Housing Supply Numbers are reduced, but not on Canvey Island specifically.

We must Urge our Councillors to actively Vote Against this Local Plan, even if Intervention is the only option.

The population of Castle Point increased over the previous Census Period 2001 -2011 by just 1.6%.

However, the distribution of this increase is interesting, Canvey Island, where Flood Risk is an Actual Threat, was 2.6% up, whilst the Mainland saw just a 0.8% increase!

We covered this in more detail HERE.

We must Urge our Councillors to actively Vote Against this Local Plan, even if Intervention is the only option.

With the development of Jotmans Farm, of 900 dwellings, comes a Link Road, wait for it, ONTO CANVEY WAY !

The intention is to form a junction from west Benfleet to meet Canvey Way halfway along.

Canvey Island Commuters will only have to envisage the effects of traffic having priority from the right at junctions to imagine how this will effect the Island!

It is clear this Local Plan 2018 is a Bad Plan.

We must Urge our Councillors to actively Vote Against this Local Plan, even if Intervention is the only option.

At least the possibility of a Neutral view on development distribution may be applied, rather than this biased version!

A list of our CPBC councillors contact details can be found HERE.

The Local Plan meeting to decide where and when development across Canvey Island will take place Wednesday 28th November start 7.30pm at Council Chamber, Kiln Road, Thundersley, Benfleet, Essex, SS7 1TF.

*mainland residents group claim.

Like a bad Smell, this just will not Go Away!